'Two Blind to Ride' team make stop in Bend
Until a few years ago, 32-year-old Christi Bruchok had never ridden a bike.
"At a young age, I kind of learned to not hate... but I had an aversion to the outdoors and activities like that," Bruchok said Wednesday.
Now she and her boyfriend, Tauru Chaw, are pedaling together through a 17,000-mile tandem bike ride.
The two legally blind cyclists began their journey in Argentina.
And before continuing on to their destination, Deadhorse, Alaska, they're spending a few days in Bend to relax.
The Arizona couple is staying with a couple they met through the Website warmshowers.org, a site connecting long-distance cyclists with free lodging.
"We have only 5,000 (miles) to go, so it's downhill from here on," Chaw said with a laugh.
The couple often camps whereever they can find a spot to settle, but appreciate when people from Warm Showers open their homes so they can shower and get hot meals.
Chaw said they've met thousands of people are their journey, often speaking at schools for the blind or to people with visual impairments.
It's not their first long trip -- they took the tandem bike on a shorter, cross-country jaunt in 2009.
"Rode it from Southern California all the way to North Carolina, and that was like step one," Chaw said.
Chaw told NewsChannel 21 he was born for adventure, and when he found out ten years ago he suffers from a blinding genetic degenerative disease, it was a moment that changed his life forever.
"Either I was going to stay at work and keep on working, or I was going to quit now and go out and do everything I wanted to do in life, in order to kind of see the world before I lose my vision," Chaw said.
He said his vision at present is equal to looking through a thick toilet paper roll. He has no peripheral vision.
Bruchok has been legally blind her entire life. She was born with severe myopia.
The pair are proving to themselves, and the world, that with extra planning and strong determination -- there are no limits.
"It's more important for you to determine your own boundaries, because only you know what your boundaries are," Chaw said.
And they hope to inspire other visually impaired people along the way.
"I can see we're planting the seeds in a young mind - it's exciting," Bruchok said.
Even inspiring their host, who was going through some dark days himself when he got their email.
"This adventure of theirs make me very emotional," Dewey Davidson said.
Davidson, 84 is an adventurer himself -- and broke his neck two months ago while skiing.
"The first time he tried to use his computer (after the accident) he got an email from Warm Showers," said Davidson's wife, Bonnie Davidson.
Chaw and Bruchok wanted to stay with the Davidsons for a couple days during their trip.
"I've got a rough row to hoe, they've got a rough row to hoe, and we'll both do it," Dewey said.
It's a road to lifelong friends and sights that'll last through the darkness.
"In the future, I'm going to have all these memories," Chaw said. "And all these images in my head that will still be there."
The pair will be speaking to the Bend Sunrise Lions Club on Friday at noon at Jake's Diner. The public is welcome to attend.
Their next stop will be in Madras.
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